Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Social Media" and the Sheridan Trial

I was asked last week if I would write a piece about my experience of blogging the trial of Tommy and Gail Sheridan and what that could tell us about the role of blogging and other "social media" in covering criminal cases. I completed it on Thursday while we were awaiting the verdict.  I've posted a copy below, I hope readers will find it useful.

On Thursday 23rd of December, after hearing  46 days of evidence from 68 witnesses, a jury of 12 women and 2 men finally delivered their verdict of guilty against Tommy Sheridan. People outside Scotland may be unaware of how big a story this was, Tommy Sheridan is still the best known political figure in Scotland and even before it began his perjury trial was already dominating the media. I could also see, through conversations with people on both sides, what bitter divisions within the left in Scotland, of which I am a member, the case was causing. Just before the trial began I decided to write an account of the proceedings, I hoped that creating, in so far as I could, a fair an accurate account of what happened in court would help people follow the trial on the basis of accurate information, not tabloid tittle tattle.  In the three months since it began  The blog has been mentioned in the Scottish parliament,reached half a million page views. and, I would suggest, has raised new questions about the role of social media in the reporting of the administration of justice in Scotland.

At the end of the first week of the trial. by a journalist who had seen me taking notes in court and asked “who I was with ” I answered “I'm doing a blog" he did not appear particularly impressed.   I had no legal training but had checked the rules around contempt of court and decided that as long as I stuck to what was said in the presence of the jury I would be within the law. On the second week, when Tommy Sheridan sacked his QC, there was a debate amongst the journalists if they could report that. Two decided that they could and phoned their offices with the news, We then returned to court to be told by the judge that this matter could not be mentioned until the jury had been informed. It was instructive  to watch senior reporters leap up and run out of court to get their story pulled and a lesson to keep being careful about what I posted.

Another consequence of Tommy Sheridan’s decision to represent himself was that it raised the drama of the trial to new heights. The accused,  one of the best orators of his political generation, directly faced his accusers. At times the scenes seemed more like an argument in a pub rather that a High Court trial, as former friends attacked each other as “liars” and “fantasists.” Two prosecution witnesses were cited for contempt of court and one convicted. We also saw Andrew Coulson, David Cameron’s chief media adviser, being questioned about his role in phone hacking while students and police were battling on the streets of London. It was rumored in court that Mr Coulson was not happy about being told that he could not use his phone in the witness room telling staff, “that could be the Prime Minister calling!” He was informed that the rules applied to everyone, including him.

As the trial continued even some  journalists began to admit that they read the blog, and no-one had any complaints about it’s accuracy.  What everyone asked about though was the comments I was posting, I was told on a number of occasions that if anything was going to get me into legal trouble it was that. To me blogging without comments isn’t blogging, the only advantage social media has over conventional media is it’s ability to promote interactivity between writer and readers. However approving comments began to be a full-time job in itself at the peak times we could be receiving 250  a day, of which around 100, if published, would have potentially laid me open to a charge of contempt of court. To date we have allowed nearly 6000 comments and deleted around 2000. At first the site was mostly read by people in Scotland, by the end however our biggest source of page views became London and we were being read, and getting comments from the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

As the case neared it’s climax the bitterness and hatred the case was stirring up grew to new levels.  On an average day I would be dealing with comments and emails threatening me with being reported to the authorities, sued for defamation, jailed for contempt or just beaten to a pulp. On the other hand it was people posting encouragement  for my work that kept me going as the case dragged on into winter. I knew that if I made a factual mistake someone would spot it and post a comment correcting it. I didn’t have any sub-editors but had thousands of fact checkers.

The other thing I began to see was a change in the attitude towards me in the court itself. Not long into the case I had been taken out of court by the police and told I could not take notes as I was not a “bona fide journalist.” The Clerk of the court however spoke to them and told the police that I should be allowed to take notes and indeed later on in the case I did not even have to join the long queue up to get into the public gallery and was allowed to sit in the press section. Lawyers and journalists began to give me background information. One dark Friday evening, as I was leaving court,  a woman was berating a leading Television journalist for his coverage and on noticing me shouted “why can’t you be more like him, the blogger.” I hurried away. The broadcaster approached me on the Monday after told  me that I was “lucky” as “I only have two minutes to report the case every day you can write as much as you want.”

Courts are open to the public for a reason. Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. Anyone, in print, on TV or online, has a duty to report a live criminal case responsibly. The stakes in court are high. Witnesses have their reputations on the line, accused persons their liberty.  However a criminal trial is the only high profile news event that is never broadcast on television, played on the radio or filmed for posterity. All that the public usually  have to rely on to make a judgement about the evidence given in court are short television reports or summaries in the newspapers.  In this case thousands of people were anxious to know the details of who had said what in court, and to give their opinions on the testimony and the evidence. It was noticeable that our readership always peaked after TV news bulletins, people seemed to want to find out more that the three minute reports they had just seen. They also wanted to express their opinions about the progress of the case, opinions that often seemed to be better informed that those of many of the pundits.

Of course most people will have got their news about the “Trial of the Decade,” as one tabloid dubbed it, through the newspapers and Television. The role of our site was to provide more specialist coverage to those who wanted more in depth coverage, which at around 13,000 people a day was a lot more than I ever expected. I know from discussions with people involved in the legal system that the courts in both England and Scotland are debating the benefits and possible pitfalls of blogs , twitter and facebook in the reporting of high profile cases. I’d like to think our site showed that this can be done responsibly and I would suggest that Here is a field where social media can add a very useful element to the public’s understanding of crime and punishment.


paw said...

Dear James,

I agree totally with this post.

This blog has been wonderful and you have indeed set the standard for the blogging of a court case for the future.

I am glad that you have gained some respect among journalists. As I recall at an early stage you were asked not to take notes while "real" journalists kept on writing. It's good to see that things have changed.

Please get the donate button working. If we want this type of journalism we should pay for it. Remember that the power of the NoTW that most of the followers of this blog despise has a readership of 2.8 million people who pay £1 every Sunday for it. Add in the advertising revenue and NotW has a massive sum, and power to distort journalism and, in my opinion, to ignore the law using illegal methods of newsgathering. If we want to see more journalism like that of this blog, we should be prepared to pay for it.

The coverage of the trial has been far more detailed than anything in the press.

We have been unaware of the comments that you have had to weed out. I suppose many of them will have been from the Tommy will always be innocent brigade. However, there is still that posting on the Scottish Young Socialist's site;
That comment really should be moderated out. For one thing "Muzza" is rather confused as they confuse the blogger with the comments.

I agree that allowing commenting has made an important contribution to the blog, but I do not think that you should allowed any anonymous posting. You have had a cross to bear editing out stuff that we did not see, and did not want to see. Anonymity is too often a cover for cowardice and irresponsibiity.

Well done James and other contributors, especially Whatsy.

Grumpy old man said...

Your blog James and the invaluable contribution made by Whatsy will be recorded as a landmark in social commentating. Having spent the last 2 days reading TS supporters tweets and blogs it makes me reconsider my opinion that, maybe Elvis is not dead. I will hopefully direct my, as yet, unborn grandchildren to this blog, and let them know it was me that posted this comment as I'm sure it will remain for posterity.

Nerves of Steel said...

Anon 4:44 I disagree, not allowing "anonymous" commenting would have killed the blog stone dead. In fact, I believe that all the commentators (not just the Anons) should be awarded a special Doleman Nerves of Steel Standard Gold Bar* Prize for having the daring, boldness to dare commenting on such a controversial, bile-filled, high-profile trial where so much was at stake for so many.

* approx value = £350,000 :-)

Gordon Darroch said...

Hi James,

I'm ashamed to admit I came to this blog late, in the last days of the trial, and have only glanced over most of your output. I'm greatly impressed by what I have read, though. I've long thought there ought to be a place for good, thorough, balanced court reporting in the modern media, since newspapers are devoting increasingly less space to it. You have demonstrated that the internet, in the hands of a good and diligent writer, offers a great opportunity to redress the balance.

What you haven't shown, sadly, is how anyone can devote the necessary time and resources to court reporting to this kind of standard and still make a living out of it. I say this as someone who used to work for a news agency and spent a lot of time down at the courthouse, hunched over a notebook and scribbling furiously in shorthand. It was one of my favourite parts of the job, but I also came to realise that it's essentially unviable except for the most high-profile cases. Newspapers and broadcasters are commercial entities operating in straitened times, and nobody should expect them to tear up their schedules for something that consumes vast quantities time, money and personnel for often little return.

I don't know what the answer is, but I hope your efforts will help to reassert the value of court reporting and spark a debate on how we can best ensure it continues, both as a branch of journalism and a service to democracy. As you say, justice has to be seen to be done if it is to be served properly.

Best of luck with whatever you choose to pursue next.

Chumpo said...

Hi James,

Interesting to hear about your experience in the article, must have been a bit of a novelty at the very least.

Who were the 2 witnesses cited for contempt of court (or is that not something that can be discussed)?

NB. Paw - Muzza on the SSY article doesn't seem confused to me - he makes no reference to James as an author, it's pretty clear to anyone who has followed this blog that such a description would be referring to the comments section. It is part of internet/blogging lexicon to describe a blog as if it it was like a 'place' - eg. "over on the Doleman blog". As James mentions in his article above, comments are are integral part of blogging as an interactive medium.

Not politically affilliated said...

Even although you didnt publish some of my comments, LOL I would like to congratulate you on the the professionalism demonstrated in your reporting of this trial. No mean feat given the legal constrictions and the time devoted.
I wish you much success with your next endeavour which, Im positive will not be frought with the difficulties this case has presented. The numpties that threatened you personally are merely that......numpties.
Best wishes Sir and a Happy New Year

Not politically affilliated said...

Ooops forgot Whatsy's excellent contribution.

James Doleman said...

Hello Chumpo, George McNeiage was tried and convicted of contempt of court in a seperate case. the judge admonished him.

Matthew McColl was warned that he may be held in contempt for refusing to answer a question and was told to leave court and get legal advice. The next morning he came back, apologised and answered the question, so his contempt was deemed to have been "purged"

Anonymous said...


george wasn't tried. He said sorry and got admonished. Don't topspin it.

And where's the Thomas Montgomery report?

James Doleman said...

Three points anon

1) My name is James, unless you are a friend or family member ofine.

2) I attended the hearing where Mr McNeilage accepted, through his QC that he was guilty of contempt and the hearing 4 weeks later where the judge was shown reports and heard a plea for clemency before admonishing him

3) The site has a handy search function, if you type the name Thomas Montgomery into it you will find this

I have no problems with people having opinions anon, but as I have said before if people want to accuse me of inaccuracy I'd appreciate if they had a basis on which to do so,

Chumpo said...

What are the details of McNeilage's CoC?


James Doleman said...

Hello Chumpo, it is mostly in the report I did at the time.

The parts where the jury leave are when he is being warned by the judge. The day ended with him being told to take legal advice and the next day opened with him being found guilty and sentence being deferred for reports.

Anonymous said...

Admonishment?! - Lord Bracadale must have been in a bad mood to dish out that severity of punishment. Fingers crossed that Tommy doesn't suffer the same fate!

Anonymous said...

A minor point, James, but did Tommy "object" to any of the jurors?

James Doleman said...

Not that I am aware of anon. Two of those originally selected were excused but I didn't hear anyone objecting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, James. I don't think there is realistically much chance of objecting anyway, since any objection has to be made before the juror has taken their seat in the jury-box.

Anonymous said...

ONE of those originally selected WAS excused?

James Doleman said...

I see anon is back again. Anon we are discussing the jury selection at the beginning of the case not the juror excused later. For reference see the very first post I did

You What ? said...

Anonymous 6.20.......people are accusing the Sheridan camp of defending him beyond all reason don't you bother yourself trying to paint McNeilage as anything other than an unsavoury character - I wouldn't trust him with my bus fare.

It's unbelievable that he is still in the SSP and treated like a hero.

What kind of person would tape his friend from school and sell it to the News of the World of all papers ?

Jenny said...

@You What?
'What kind of person would tape his friend from school and sell it to the News of the World of all papers ?'

Well exactly. I am genuinely shocked at his continued membership of the SSP. And more alarmed still that he is regarded as a hero within the party. I am particularly disgusted by McNeilage's excuse that he was doing it for the good of the community. I can think of about two hundred thousand reasons that point more to him being a self interested chancer, than a concerned citizen.

Clearly Sheridan is damaged beyond repair in a political sense by all this but if McNeilage is what the SSP membership regard as a hero, then they're not a party any decent human being, let alone any socialist should have anything to do with.

I left the SSP before the libel trial having become totally disillusioned and disgusted by the behaviour of both sides in this. At the end of it all I am just sorry I ever wasted my time, money and energy on such people.

jim mclean said...

Enjoy this blog, probably because it is pre-moderated and does not descend onto the horrendous arguments that other ones do. Especially as I usually bite when someone throws the bait, regretting it in the morning.
One thing, I am beginning to have concerns over the mental health of many Scottish Activists, some really dodgy stuff from all sides.

Chumpo said...

"regarded as a hero" is pushing it quite a bit - there are undoubtedly differences of opinions over his actions within the party, though to my knowledge nobody has made a formal complaint.

you can imagine for many of the people called as witnesses then branded 'scabs' and 'liars' for refusing to go along with TS and for telling the truth in court, his tape was a relief as it cleared their names and helped show it was Sheridan that was lying.

anyway, thanks for the link, James - though are you allowed to discuss specifically what he did that qualified as CoC?


James Doleman said...

It's pretty much all there Chumpo. The last straw was Mr McNeilage shouting at Gail Sheridan "you shouldn't be there pal" after he had been warned three times about making outbursts. That was the point when the judge called a halt, asked the jury to leave and told GM to leave court and come back the next day having taken legal advice.

Chumpo said...

Ah ok, thanks muchly.


Kevin Mauchan said...

Thank you for the excellent journalism.I have followed your blog since the start of the trial and think you have been as fair minded as possible, and fairly stoic despite the pressure you have been placed under. I'm an ex SSP member, but still broadly a supporter and believe that Tommy was the architect of his own downfall. However, I have no wish to gloat or contribute to the sectarian madness that has ensued since the 23rd. I really hope Tommy can redeem himself and gets a minimal sentence. I have utmost sympathy for those close to him. I sincerely hope a line can be drawn under this and we can all concentrate on what really matters.

SomeoneorOther said...

has this IP address been blocked? I posted two fairly anodyne comments which have nothing to do with the trial and neither have been approved...

Jamesie Cotter Esq.Govan said...

Dear James,
If you write a book about the trial/s and your unique reporting experiences, can I suggest the following:

As and when TS appeals (and all the grounds I've seen so far are spectacular non-starters which won't even get past the permission stage!) he will need to supply a full transcript of the case to the Appellate body. That transcript is produced from the tape by independent court reporters. As and when the Crown get their copy, you are in can then apply under s.1 Freedom of Information Act (Scotland) 2000 for a full copy from the Crown. If they refuse under s.32 because it is a 'court record' and exempt, cite the case of Mitchell v Information Tribunal (2004) which ruled such transcripts are not exempt from disclosure as they are the product of an independent source.
A copy of such a transcript would be an invaluable adjunct to the copious notes you've already made,

Best regards,

Jamesie Cotter Esq.

paw said...


Is there anything that you were not able to tell us at the time. Anything that might be illuminating?

I am still bemused by the prosecution calling Matthew McColl as a witness on 24th November. Your account reads as pure farce.

The prosecution had lined up, I believe, two more reliable witnesses who appeared for the NoTW in the 2006 defamation trial.

Because of this error, the two witnesses were not called and eventually the whole of the Moathouse "chapter" was abandoned by the prosecution.

All very odd. I put this down to the prosecution not wanting to start off this evidence by presenting a witnesses who had previously testified for NOTW and had received payment from that newspaper.

Do you have any on on this?

James Doleman said...

Hello Paw, there really is very little to add about Mr McColl. I assume he was called first as he was the key link in the story, he had invited the people involved, and unlike the other witnesses had not been offered payment (as far as we know) for his story.

Unfortunatly for the prosecution Mr McColl repeatedly contradicted himself on the stand, and after being asked 3 times by Paul McBride if he had attended the Adam and Eve Club, and forcefully denying it, on being asked a 4th time admitted he had been there. After Mr McBride concluded his cross there was an adjournment, then lunch, and then the decision from the prosecution to drop that whole chapter of evidence.

sheila brown said...

James,could i humbly suggest a new thread for those who have only read,unlike yourself,Whatsy etc. attended court and produced this fantastic blog.General overview basically.Here is my thoughts.Having just finished reading George Orwells 1984,it does have a resemblance to Sheridans trial.Big Brother(not the celebrity one)being Rupert Murdoch and his disgusting newspaper,certain members of the Scottish Socialist? Party(with a big question mark over Socialist)being Murdochs stooges(ie.Thought Police) and Winston Smith(TS) stuck in a trial which he ultimately cannot win. Winston Smith committed no crime.

'Uker's at Canada said...

Maybe there are more resonances between the TS trail and 'Animal Farm'? The initial euphoria of victory and then the relentless, insidious in-fighting and falling-out?

sheila brown said...

to Ukers at Canada,good point. But having read both books,I still compare it more akin to 1984,in that Big Brother wins. In Animal Farm there is hope and ultimately(if my memory serves me correctly,cos it was a long time ago) the pigs get beaten in the end.Hope TS will likewise overcome his adversity.

Frank Kafka said...

Did TS ever find out what he was on trial for?

paw said...

James Doleman said...
Hello Paw, there really is very little to add about Mr McColl.........

Thanks for that reply, James.
Is there anything that you could not mention at the time, that might enlighten us about the proceedings in this trial?

CB said...

Sheila Brown

"Winston Smith committed no crime" you remind us. In particular he didn't initiate a phoney defamation case against Big Brother. When you are fighting the Big Brothers of this world the truth is the only effective weapon.

The pigs don't get beaten in Animal Farm. Having started out as revolutionaries they finally get so corrupt and dictatorial that they become indistinguishable from the old ruling classes.

'Uker's at Canada said...

Thanks Sheila,
Animal Farm ends with the pigs becoming in effect, human;drinking, gambling and trading with the human farms.
The ultimate betrayal is when they sell Boxer to the knackers yard once he becomes too old to work.

Watcher 1 said...

All in all, a facinating insight into how the whole thing developed. You mangaged, through this and links to the other blogs/vitriol sites, to shine a lot of light into a muddy pool. Thank you James for your hard work, yr shorthand looks v impresssive. I was a fully paid up IS member at uni in the early 70's, but now I worry that I came across like some of the SSY peeps today .... :(

Jo G said...

Hi James.
I too have arrived very late to this blog of yours. It is an amazing piece of work on your part. Unlike "real" journalists you weren't looking to slant your writing in the manner the mainstream media does. It speaks volumes that so much more detail is contained in your writing than we got from our "newspapers" and broadcasters during the trial.

I also think some have forgotten, when they refer to "phoney defamation" cases that a jury did not find it phoney. Sheridan won that case. He also almost won this one. This was no unanimous verdict. They were almost half and half.

Remember too that NOTW was exposed in court via emails offering at least one person more cash to spice up her story a bit. Sounds like paying for perjury to me.

The actions of Lothian and Borders Police during certain parts of this investigation need to be looked at very closely too. Is the right to remain silent legal or not? Of course it is. So what gives any Police Officer the right to accuse any person of being "schooled in IRA/PIRA interrogation techniques" simply for following legal advice to remain silent? Who at L&B leaked taped interviews involving the Sheridans when the release of such material to the press is a blatant breach of Data Protection laws? Will these things go un-investigated? And if so why?

I honestly do not know what to make of the SSP or the conduct of many within it. I will say however that the sheer hatred towards Sheridan by many in that Party was thoroughly ugly and their clear thirst for vengeance was even uglier. This was ultimately about power too remember. Although what is left for the SSP now will not amount to much in terms of votes. I think it will fold. No matter what people think of Sheridan the part played by the SSP will not be forgotten and the stench will hang around.

Critical-eye said...

Jo G said

The part played by the SSP will not be forgotten and the stench will hang around.

TS took a libel case against the NOTW, and lied in Court; by lying he was obtained an award of £200,000 by fraud; he called his SSP colleagues who told the truth "Liars" and "Scabs".

I think we know where the stench comes from.

Sceptic said...

Totally agree critical eye. If anyone insults me I always head straight down to the closest police station and demand they be jailed. It's the Socialist way.

James Doleman said...

Thanks for the tip jaimsie.

Critical-eye said...


My house has been burgled, from your window you have a good view of the thief heading off with the loot.

As a citizen, don't you head straight to the police to report the evidence of a crime?

Sceptic said...

No one has been burgled, no one has been hurt. People, who let's remember were professional politicians, got called a bad name and ran to to the
police. There is a name for that sort of behaviour in Glasgow

sceptic said...

A comment from Ian Hamilton's blog I found interesting

allymax Says:
December 27th, 2010 at 6:55 pm
Today I have been compelled to write to both the Scottish Government, and Lord Bracadale, (via Judiciary of Scotland website), to voice my real concerns pertaining to Scotland’s justice system and the HMA v Sheridan trial. Scotland ’s justice system has been irreparably damaged by this fiasco.

Dozens upon dozens of prosecution witnesses, dozens upon dozens of miscellaneous ‘cluster-charges’, (designed to root-out non-indicted information for salacious purposes only), 5 million of tax-payers money to produce a conviction of a single lie, (of which was adjudged innocent in the previous civil trial of which has a higher standard of proof), 52,000 man hours of Scotland’s police, dozens upon dozens of charges dropped during trial at the bench, (a new low for Scotland’s justice system), every conceivable shred of police ethics broken during investigations, and the ‘dragging out’ of the pre-trial preparation for public humility through press bullying of the Sheridan family has left this trial as the worst example of Scotland’s justice system; it was effectively a vengeful and debasing show-trial by the Crown prosecution in Scotland on a Scots family. Cumberland ethics returned!

There are so many aspects to this trial that are absolutely wrong, I will be outlining them and making points of contention in a 3rd part extension of my original letter to Lord Carloway for his Review of Scotland’s Justice System and Practice of law. Moreover, the way this trial has been conducted shows real and very serious concerns as to the applicability concerning abolishing the present double jeopardy law. I would certainly not trust the abolition of double jeopardy law with Scotland’s present justice system and practices.

The constant media bullying, with their infectious smearing of the Sheridan family only fed into the hate-filled public zeitgeist the justice system aprovongly encouraged, along with the conduct and behaviours and practices of the crown/prosecution has left me distrusting, disgusted, and ashamed of Scotland’s justice system, and in-deed to be Scots’ tonight.

If the justice system in Scotland can view this nasty methodology of practice as a victory, then all Scotland can view its justice system as a despicable oppression of the Scots peoples.

Sincerely disgusted and ashamed, allymax.

Anonymous said...

"professional politicians got called a bad name and ran to the

This is the best comment so far on this excellent blog.

It sums up the entire situation for people watching bemusedly from the outside and wondering how this kind of reactionary behaviour could possibly be portrayed as socialist.

Jo G said...

Critical Eye...I'm entitled to express my view just as you are entitled to express yours.

I think however that I highlighted valid reasons in my earlier post for being uncomfortable with this trial.

You chose to focus only on what I said about the SSP. You ignored the other concerns I raised about evidence emerging concerning witnesses being offered more cash to beef up their testimony and about Police equating someone opting to remain silent with that person adopting "terrorist techniques" during questioning. Police also leaked material involving the Sheridans and covered by Data Protection laws to the media. That is a very serious matter indeed. It is a criminal offence. Prominent organisations have recently been fined significant sums for breaching DP laws. Are the Police somehow exempt? If not who will investigate what was going on?

iain brown said...

Aye,the Truth Police are still trying to defend the indefencible which they accuse Sheridan of being guilty. In reply to CBs assertion that when you are taking on the Big Brothers of this world,then TRUTH is the only effective weapon! Codswallop! Have previously commended ,to those who havent read it,Leon Trotskys brilliant (IMHO),THEIR MORALS AND OURS.Just google it.To those like myself who are not voracious readers,i will direct you to the paragraph headed MORAL PRECEPTS OBLIGATORY ON ALL. "whoever does not care to return to Moses,Christ& Mohammed,whoever is not satisfied with eclectic hodge-podges,must acknowledge that morality is a product of social development,that there is nothing invariable about it,that these interests are contradictory,that morality more than any other ideology HAS A CLASS CHARACTER. You ,presumably have either not read this, or hhave done and consider this to be codswallop! But i wonder if McCombes,Curran,Leckie and other actual, and potential SSP Crown witnesses have done so. But if they havent ,it would not surprise as political education was never a strong point for them. Since they have never been Marxists,let alone consistent Marxists,far less them being revolutionary socialist,helps explain things.One thing they have been consistent is that they have consistently wrong on so many important issues over the years. So coming back to TS,why break the habits of a lifetime?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps whenever TS appears he should play The Clash. I fought the law.

Thank for your blog guys it has had us all entertained from the start.
The amount of times I have been rolling on the floor with it has been priceless. Not because of they way it is written just for what was reported all of the who said what and the reactions and the comments have been so funny to.

There should be a healthy exchange of banter in the comments, even it it is for the simple point of giving us all a laugh. life is hard enough so we may as well have some fun with it.

Anonymous said...

Sceptic "no one has been hurt"

Are you having a laugh?! Good people have had their whole lives turned upside down by Tommy and his brigade of willing and unprincipled perjurers. It's caused huge upset, job losses, dropping out of thr activism they used to love, people having to leave the country, marriage breakdowns, untold stress and early greying, abuse triggering, being actually physically and verbally abused in the street, professional difficulties, mental health issues.. A LOT of personal damage has been caused by the lies Tommy has told, in court and in his smear campaigns within party & media. On a scale you probably can't (refuse to) even imagine.

This was NOT a victimless crime. From Tommy's family and friends, to the very real and very damaged lives of those he falsely accused, to the right of ordinary people to vote for the party they believed in, there are victims everywhere. Just because you aren't one of them doesn't make it any less real or hurtful.

Justsaying said...

"the right of ordinary people to vote for the party they believed in,"

I honestly fail to understand that comment, the SSP has stood in every election since 2006.

Carly Simon said...

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It will be coming around again

Jo G said...

Anon, one question. Do you or do you not accept that Sheridan's "colleagues" at the SSP were already planning his removal long before any of this kicked off? That's all. Because they were and that is a fact. And yes it came out in the trial how far back it started but some out here knew it was happening at the time.

I was never involved with the SSP but I was involved in community politics and it was well known some in the SSP wanted Tomnmy gone. As I said, this was long before all this other stuff came out. So please stop going on about the decent and the good. There were few decent or good at the SSP when it came to principles or stooping to levels even snakes can't reach. And there were lies there too. Lies, ulterior motives and plain badness.

I would repeat, Tommy Sheridan won his civil case. Are we saying that jury are liars too? The people the first jury labelled liars were NOT the people the Police went after. The Police went after the Sheridans.

How many "witnesses" were paid by the piece of trash known as NOTW? How can that be ok in a court of law? We know at least one who was emailed and told she'd get more money if she spiced up her story.

And incidentally Anon, it isn't that I'm pro-Sheridan because it isn't about that for me. I have watched this trial unfold and frequently wanted to vomit at the sewage people have thrown around for reasons best known to themselves. I have seen Sheridan making huge holes in the prosecution case and ultimately I don't believe anyone "won" this case outright.

I have seen conduct by Lothian and Borders Police which shocked me up to and including leaking material covered by DP law to the press. I need that conduct explained fully because they committed criminal offences every time they did it. I would like it investigated.

I have seen people who, without Sheridan, wouldn't have got jobs as cleaners in the Scottish Parliament never mind elected! They got elected on votes cast for HIM! Because that's how they got there: on his back! And within a short time they were of the view they could do everything better and he was surplus to requirements. That's some idea of comradeship they have there I must say! While the poor in Scotland needed a healthy socialist Party what were this wee clique doing? They were fighting over who was in charge and how to get rid of Sheridan. They now have a disgusting statement on their site in which they suggest that he has "negated" his contribution to socialism over twenty five years. That's quite a statement from them and it speaks volumes because there again you have the hatred. It is they who seek to "negate" Sheridan's presence ever within their midst yet they won't achieve it. Know why? Because without him none of them would have been anywhere politically. I suspect that's where many of them will go now: nowhere politically.

"Unbalanced" said...

I cannot say if the trial reports were accurate and without bias as that can only be done by comparing the court transcripts of the complete trial.
However it appeared to me that there was not sufficient balance maintained in the Comments.
The same contributors were given time after time a large amount of space to put forward pro Tommy views of the evidence, these people appear to have been Marxists/Activists. By allowing the Comments to become a rag for committed Marxists/Pro Tommy supporters, your hopes that there is a future for further Court reporting cannot have been helped.

James Doleman said...

Hello Unbalanced, I'm sorry if you feel that way however I could only post what was sent and if this meant more from one side of the debate than another that was just a product of what comments I was receiving.

I was not really in a position to start deleting comments due to the views expressed, this was only done as per the policy set out on the site I would however point out that many people who were convinced of Mr Sheridan's guilt were also regular contributors.

Jo G said...

For the sake of clarity I would like to make it clear I have never been involved with the SSP or with Solidarity. I am not a Marxist either nor am I "pro-Tommy".

I would suggest that those who seek to label comments they do not like in that way, in an attempt to reduce their validity, have an agenda of their own. Maybe they should think about that.

Whatsy said...

@Jo G

"I would repeat, Tommy Sheridan won his civil case. Are we saying that jury are liars too?How many "witnesses" were paid by the piece of trash known as NOTW? How can that be ok in a court of law? We know at least one who was emailed and told she'd get more money if she spiced up her story. "

I believe it is perfectly acceptable, legally, for this to happen, and indeed did in this case. However, the fact that some witnesses were paid, or offered payments, by the NotW, should be borne in mind by the jury in assessing theor credibility and reliability.

If paid witnesses were inadmissable, it would be hard for any newspaper, especially tabloids, to win any case that resulted form one of theor stories.

Whatsy said...

@Jo G

[apologies, that last post of mine got a bit screwed up...]

"I would repeat, Tommy Sheridan won his civil case. Are we saying that jury are liars too?"

All we know is the verdict they returned. We cannot, and in my opinion should not, know what their deliberations were. However, if several witnesses lied, it would make it much harder for the jury to reach a "correct" verdict.

Jo G said...

Hi Whatsy, I'm not sure it should be legally acceptable to be honest. There was a time in Scottish Courts when witnesses paid for testimony were considered unreliable due to the possibility of bribery being a factor.

Jo G said...

"However, if several witnesses lied, it would make it much harder for the jury to reach a "correct" verdict."

I think, given the factors that existed in this case, that it was simply impossible for a "correct" verdict to be reached. The ingredients in the mix produced a lethal concoction. You had money changing hands, the existence of a plan amongst Sheridan's colleagues to get rid of him even before this started and you had sheer unadulterated hatred. Who can tell what happens to the truth there?

Personally I'm not sure we know the truth even now. I don't think we ever will. But there is still the fact that Police were seen to go after one side only and that is particularly worrying.

Jo G said...

"If paid witnesses were inadmissable, it would be hard for any newspaper, especially tabloids, to win any case that resulted form one of theor stories."

Perhaps the law needs to make life a lot tougher for the tabloids in that case as they gather their "stories" in exchange for cash. The most powerful motivation known today is usually money and in its midst truth usually flees. The freedom they have to publish what they like is shocking. And I don't particularly mean about Sheridan incidentally I mean any of us.

Christian Schmidt said...

James (and Whatsy and others),

Thanks for the blog, it was most informative

SSP Member said...

@Iain Brown

I have actually read "Their Morals and Ours", although not for a while - November 2004 to be precise. Christians when in the jaws of a troublesome dilemma reach for the Bible - I reach for the Marxist Internet Archive.

I was particularly drawn to the conclusion of the piece...

[i]Permissible and obligatory are those and only those means, we answer, which unite the revolutionary proletariat, fill their hearts with irreconcilable hostility to oppression, teach them contempt for official morality and its democratic echoers, imbue them with consciousness of their own historic mission, raise their courage and spirit of self-sacrifice in the struggle.[/i]

Is that really what Sheridan did? He sued the NoTW for £200K because they alleged he had affairs. What historic mission, self-sacrifice and rising of spirit is there in supporting a minor celeb getting his grubby paws on £200K to defend his repuation as a clean living family man?

[i] Precisely from this it flows that not all means are permissible. When we say that the end justifies the means, then for us the conclusion follows that the great revolutionary end spurns those base means and ways which set one part of the working class against other parts, or attempt to make the masses happy without their participation; or lower the faith of the masses in themselves and their organization, replacing it by worship for the “leaders”.[/i]

Given that this whole affair has split the left in Scotland from top to bottom, demoralised many supporters and fellow travellers and set back our cause by at least a decade in a time when the left is sorely needed and attempting to it by a cult of Tommy worship is this justifiable?

[i]There is, therefore, no greater crime than deceiving the masses, palming off defeats as victories, friends as enemies, bribing workers” leaders, fabricating legends, staging false trials[/i]

Pretending to the great unwashed that you are the victim of a massive global conspiracy; defiant in the face of public humiliation at your own stupidity; shafting practically every friend, comrade and lover in pursuit of reputation maintainance, attempting to get the entire leadership of the SSP to commit perjury, making up wee stories about Rupert Murdoch kicking his cat at losing £200K (FFS, thats pocket change) and bringing a libel trial on the basis of truthful accusations.

There is indeed no greater crime.

The SSP is frequently accused in comments like these of being "moralists" and maybes we are....and maybe the question of "their morals or ours" is a pertinant one to ask.

Peter said...

Former SSP 1.24am

You say:

"attempting to get the entire leadership of the SSP to commit perjury"

I am on the look out for these errors.

Sheridan you will find was (effectively) found Not Guilty of that charge you raise.

The suborning indictment was deleted by the jury.

It was in all the papers I think :)

Other than that I like your post about morals very much.

I do feel you are wrong about who is mostly to blame for this farrago but a very well put argument nonetheless.

I had resisted quoting Their Morals and Ours - we could go around in circles!

I did quote at one point my favourite one from JC "render unto Caesar what is Caesars" .... which is what I consider the SSP/United Left did here.

The UL (at best) decided that Sheridans actions in suing the NOTW were matters outside of the socialist movement. Therefore it was legitimate to first try and force him out. They did not believe his denials.
Their manouveres backfired hopelessly.

Their polict led them to cross class lines first for the NOTW.

The minuting of alleged "confessions"; the giving of secret affadavits to the media; the concious sham of the "strategy of resistance"; appearing for the NOTW; going to the police; making secret recordings (allegedly); and then appearing for the Crown are ALL now PROVEN as their policy.

By their own works shall ye know them. The United Left in wrongly deciding that the Sheridan libel case and this perjury trial was (in all respects) outside of the class struggle gave them "an out" for their capitulation.

They rendered unto Caesar more than he could ever have hoped for.

The problem with classing class lines and rendering to Caesar is when they try and cross back again.

Convincing others when they try and come back over that they will not do it again is virtually impossible - unless they accept their bankrupt policy that is (it will be difficult even then.)

It's probably best, if they will not do that, that they all retire from political life ... do good works for a charity etc.

Put that red flag down guys - it's simply not yours anymore.

Comradely Peter.

iain brown said...

SSP member(Dec 29th,i 24am), thanks at least for a cogent informed(well partially anyway) response to my post. Glad to see,at least someone in your organisation knows what i was talking about! long time since i originally read"Their Morals and Ours",but ,unlike yourself,dont remember when.And it was actually done without bile,nor mallice ,which was most refreshing in itself.I restate my earlier position.I am NOT what you disparagingly call, a Sheridanista.Never considered him "The Daniel O Donnel"(quote)of Scottish politics", ,far less that he could walk on water! Equally, unlike so many,i never was a member of the Sheridan Hate Club(despite considerable political differences with himself and other "Millies" over decades.Personally havent got a scooby about all the allegations(most of which were ultimately deleted from the indictment list of charges.What i do know is that i am no further forward in arriving at a settled verdict in my own head.My own OPINIONS & BELIEFS are of no consequence.I will only say that my money was on a "not proven",and that would (i am almost certain) have been my vote on the jury.Like the famous song about the Miners Strike,the defence campaigns slogan was "Which Side are You On?"Like the miners iknow which side i am on here.Make no apologies for that. But forgot there is ultimately only one side in your moral universe.THE TRUTH!Thats it am away to read Trotskys classic again!LOL.

James Doleman said...

Could everyone take a deep breath an calm down. "SSP member" sorry but your last post breached at least two rules, if you could rephrase it I'll post it.

Best Regards


iain brown said...

Have already posted a response to Anonymous,thats novel),response to Sceptic(Dec 28 10.59am)that "no one has been hurt".Seems to have got lost.Doubless there have been casualties along the way.I majorly fell out with my best mate over differences.He was almost considered a family member. There has been a fairly recent thaw and some partial reconcilliation in that relationship.Mind you we have not communicated since the verdict! But there will NEVER be any making up with McCombes et al.To me they are "sine die".The "train crash",as so oft quoted for the SHERRY HATERS is solely down to him.Many others like myself,blame the United Left,Womens Network,SSY etc.But Anonymous,and those apparently still suffering from PTSD,get a grip. Its now 2011,move on.the UL was alledgedly formed as a support group.This particular"train crash",was a highly accrimonious political fall out. It wasnt Hatfield(or was it?).I am getting tired of those who talk(and feel),like they were survivors of the Dunblane massacre,or Lockerbie!Its really time to put events into some perspective. But of course if your whole world view was so zany as to actually believe your own dellusion that TS was single handedly bring down the SSP,the most important left unity project in the world(????).,then perspective is going to be a huge struggle.Remember my post re. Lt.Calley telling the My Lai massacre trial that they(the US army) had to"destroy the village in order to save it(from the Viet Cong".Seems McCombes et al. have done a much better destruction job on the SSP,than Sheridan ever could have. But at least this bonkers IMHO ,thesis helps provide both the rationale and justification for there reprehensive actions,their "modus operandi"Back to Their Morals again Read the stuff about ends justifying the means(re. The Jesuits).McCombes etc(if they have read it) obviously didnt understand it.Comrade Lev Davidovich Bronstein didnae mean that its absolutely permissible and acceptable for a (so called )Socialist destroy one of its own leading members,in defence of Socialism!Or is it me who does not understand?

iain brown said...

In reply to myself(in case no one noticed my deliberate error),of course TS is no longer an SSP member ,but of course was in the earlier phase of this saga.